NBC expanded its TV Everywhere offerings by now offering live streaming of its network on NBC.com to pay TV subscribers. The service went live on 16 December and provides live streaming from all 10 NBC-owned stations. As of now, the service is only available on the PC, but NBC announced that mobile offerings will be coming in 2015. In addition, NBC is working to bring affiliate NBC stations on board to provide live streaming service.
NBC’s service follows in the footsteps of ABC, which launched its live linear streaming service to pay TV subscribers on May 2013. Both NBC and ABC services remain behind pay TV’s walled garden, but CBS remains the lone broadcaster to offer its stand alone live streaming service, CBS All Access, available to anyone for $5.99 a month, including non-pay TV subscribers.
By streaming live feeds from its O&O stations, NBC is acknowledging that providing subscribers access off-TV is a must in order to remain competitive in the modern TV landscape. It isn't surprising that the company would make the move given the fact that both ABC and CBS already provide a similar solution. What's interesting is the fact that NBC's take on live streaming via its authenticated portal more closely resembles that of ABC rather than CBS.
Like the ABC offering, NBC's move to make live streams available for its O&O stations live streams via TV Everywhere authentication is an attempt to reach out to a new audience. Targeting millennials with multiscreen access is going to be key for broadcasters in the near future as their disposition to consume content on the TV is diminishing. At the same time, NBC's move will likely have an impact on revenue.
The move to make live streams available to authenticated TVE subscribers is also a carrot to pay TV operators whom have a vested interest in boosting video subscriber rolls. IHS believes that amongst other things, making live streaming available off-TV is likely a component of modern retransmission fee negotiations. Pay TV operators have been pushing back at increases in retransmission fees, most notably the DISH Network and CBS dispute which lead to the blackout of CBS O&O stations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other markets. While the blackout lasted one night, with a resolution announced the next day, it highlights the tensions that arise during negotiations.
Ultimately the move to provide a TV Everywhere authenticated solution rather than a stand-alone OTT pay service will generate some amount of good will between NBC and it's pay TV partners. The question is whether or not offering authenticated access is a large enough carrot to smooth rough patches in future negotiations.